What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture involves the placement of tiny, metal needles through the skin in specific places on the body to provide pain relief and other health benefits. The needles stimulate areas of the nervous system to achieve the desired effects. Acupuncture has been used for centuries to help ease pain and to promote well-being.

What is medical acupuncture?
Medical acupuncture is acupuncture performed by a licensed physician.

Does it hurt?
Acupuncture needles are very different from the needles used to draw blood. They’re extremely thin, so you should expect little to no pain with the insertion of a needle. The number of needles used and the amount of time they are left in place depends on the medical condition being treated. Some patients experience a slight skin prick at the time of insertion; others don’t feel a thing. The needles are extremely flexible, and you are able to move freely, if necessary.

What can I expect during a treatment?
Before starting medical acupuncture treatment, patients will meet with a board-certified family medicine physician to create a personalized treatment plan. Treatments can last anywhere from 15 minutes to one hour with as few as one or two needles or up to 12 or more needles. The time and number of needles needed is individualized to each patient’s treatment plan. Treatments are designed to be relaxing and are performed in a calming atmosphere.

What are the benefits?
Acupuncture helps stimulate the body’s various systems to reduce pain and improve physical and emotional well-being. Acupuncture can improve sleep, digestive function, and boost your mood. A 50 percent reduction in pain is typically expected, and you may see improvement in your ability to walk and exercise more comfortably. You may also be able to reduce or eliminate the use of medications for symptoms after successful acupuncture treatment.

How many treatments will I need?
While some symptoms improve with just one treatment, the number of treatments needed is different for each person. Most chronic conditions that have been causing symptoms for a long period of time do require more treatments to improve symptoms. Most patients notice improvement by the third treatment. Six treatments are typically recommended to achieve the maximum benefit. Once the symptoms have improved, the treatment schedule can be decreased.

Does acupuncture interfere with other treatments?
Acupuncture can provide a boost to your traditional treatment plan. Some patients undergoing chemotherapy also use acupuncture to help ease chemotherapy side effects. It may also be paired with therapies for the treatment of allergies, asthma, insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome, infertility, and more. It can often help with physical therapy and chiropractic work.

What are the risks?
The risks of acupuncture are minimal. Most patients do not experience any bleeding from this procedure although this does occasionally happen in very tiny amounts. Because the needle is entering the skin, infection of the skin is a possibility. Redness or swelling in the area of the needle is also occasionally seen, but is only temporary. There are other rare risks that can be discussed with your physician at the time of treatment.

Does insurance cover acupuncture?
It varies based on insurance coverage. Medical acupuncture is not billed to insurance, and payment is needed at the time of service.